A Social Media Strategy Plan is the first thing you should consider when planning how to win in the race for customer engagement.
When you’re marketing to professionals, there’s more to social media than LinkedIn. And there’s more to posting than self-promotion or general chat. Your Social Media must be planned in order to be successful at Customer Engagement.
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it, but if you’re not careful you can waste a lot of time on poor posts on the wrong channel, which have no plan and no consequence. So you are engaging with the wrong people, or worse still, the people you really want to engage with switch off from you, therefore do not see or read and engage with your subsequent posts.
So it’s vital that you have a social media strategy plan, so you know what you’re doing, why, to whom and how. Without that ‘plan’, you’re just throwing mud at the wall and hoping some of it sticks = failure. With a Social Media Strategy Plan you know exactly what you’re doing and why, to whom and when = success.
Well, yes and no. Although the fundamentals of social media and customer engagement are simple – anyone can do it and there are lots of tools available to make life easier for you – the writing of a social media strategy plan for customer engagement, and for prospects, is complex, requiring multiple marketing skills without which you’ll be struggling to justify your actions to the Board.
So here’s how to draw up that Social Media Strategy Plan that will ensure success in social media and increase your brand engagement. It’s a six-point plan that really works: stick to it and you’ll win. Deviate, and you’ll lose.
The six steps to create your Social Media Strategy Plan are:
It’s worth remembering the mnemonic SOSTAC; let me explain the steps to you in more detail, so you can do them yourself and win at Customer Engagement:
You’ll need a clear understanding of the complete situation to begin to put together the rest of your plan.
Ideally, this understanding is from your customers’ point of view – what do they think of you, your products or service, your competitive positioning, etc.
But you’ll also need to be aware of what’s going on within your company – your history, your value proposition, your capabilities, product uses and developments, etc. Everything. You have to become an expert!
You’ll also need in-depth awareness of what your competitors are up to, partly so you can differentiate yourself from them, but also so you can see what they do successfully and use those techniques for yourself, if appropriate – there’s no point in reinventing the wheel!
You need to be clear on what your objectives are, otherwise you’re setting yourself up to fail: social media is too big for you to try and win on every front.
‘If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to get there?’
This is particularly true of social media, where you risk wasting a lot of time chasing rainbows when you should be hard-nosed and limit yourself to a few carefully planned objectives. These need to be SMART objectives to be of any value: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timed.
To keep tabs on these you’ll need to set up and monitor relevant KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), which themselves can be backed up by setting targets.
This is the most important part of the whole process, and the most difficult and contentious. Many books have been written about how to achieve the most effective strategy, and many hours of sweat and toil have been applied to the process.
This is the second half of the euphemism above: ‘…how are you going to get there?’ – and those seven little words carry the key to your ultimate success or failure.
The sort of questions you need to find answers to are:
- How are we going to position ourselves?
- What are our main messages?
- Why might people want to buy from us?
Without a well defined and clearly articulated strategy your social media is never going to rise above the mud-slinging category, and the only reason that people are going to engage with your brand will be out of some prurient interest which will not help you become a market leader.
Now you’ve got your strategy sorted out, things are starting to get easier. You’ll be drilling down to the campaign details and working out how you’re going to make the marketplace aware of your strategy.
- What channels will you be using? There’s more to social media for professionals than just LinkedIn.
- What sort of content will you be posting? Stories or information
- Who will they come from? Will they be personality-driven or come from ‘the firm’?
- How will you vary your content to suit the channel?
- Will you attempt to multiply your influence by using advertising on social media?
- To video or not to video?
- How often will you update your best posts?
- Will you geotag your business? Will you tag influencers and other brands? Will you build advocates (star ratings)?
- There are many more: it’s a long list!
It’s important to list your tactics so that you can refer to them over the coming months/years. It forces you to analyse what you could do, and make decisions about what you can do. And what is best for you.
By ensuring everyone involved knows what you are doing, you can get your team on board and be sure that they (and other people in the company) will support you in the right way.
You will also avoid the sorts of misunderstandings that can surround such campaigns, when colleagues see your posts and wonder what you’re up to. A Social Media Strategy Plan will make all things clear and measurable, so you will be able to demonstrate what you are doing, and why – vital in the Boardroom!